Quarterback + Defensive Line Play Shine in John Tyler’s Spring Football Game
TYLER -- If Thursday's Blue and White Game is any indication, John Tyler's quarterback spot will be OK without record-setting Greg Ward.
Junior-to-be Geovari McCollister was one of several players to impress, along with speedy playmakers Jeremy Wilson and Reggie Gipson and a strong defensive line.
The first-team offense scored once on the first-team defense during 26 scrimmage plays, while the second-team offense scored twice in 25 plays. The Blue squad -- the first-team offense and second-team defense -- scored the live half's only touchdown against the White team, which consisted of the first-team defense and second-team offense.
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound McCollister completed 21 of 28 passes for 178 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions during the scrimmage and live half. McCollister will follow in the footsteps of Ward and former JT standouts Jeremy Johnson and David Bush at the heralded quarterback spot for the Lions.
"I think he had a very productive spring. He got better from the first practice all the way to the last practice. That's what we wanted him to do," said John Tyler head coach Ricklan Holmes. "We didn't want him to come in here and think that he had to carry the whole world on his shoulders. We just told him that you've just got to keep improving day by day to become the quarterback we need you to be come, and he's doing that.
McCollister ran for 34 yards on 15 carries, but his rushing yardage didn't indicate his effectiveness on the ground because of lost yards via sacks.
Those sacks came from a first-team defensive line spearheaded by 2014 tackle Travaughn Moore, 2015 end Jassavia Reese, and 2014 end Darius Amie. The 6-foot-3, 281-pound Moore and the 6-foot-4, 216-pound Reese had 2 1/2 tackles for loss apiece during the scrimmage portion of the evening. Amie had a huge live half with three sacks, while Reese had two sacks and contributed to another tackle for loss.
Moore and Reese also caught spectators' attention at the ETSN.fm Football Recruiting Combine on May 19 at APEC training facility in Tyler. Moore had the best Keiser squat power output of the 100 combine participants. Reese had the best vertical jump (33.7 inches) and best broad jump (9 feet, 4 inches) of the event's 11 defensive linemen.
While the offense replaces 5,000-yard playmaker Greg Ward, the defense must replace 24-sack defensive end and fellow Houston signee Tyus Bowser. Like the quarterback performance he got from McCollister, Holmes liked what the defensive line provided Thursday.
"I saw what I want to see. I see production, I see guys making plays, and I see people growing," Holmes said. "That's what you want to see, especially with the young crew that we've got. From the first practice all the way to today, everybody has improved. Everybody's gotten better."
Senior-to-be linebacker Andrew Clark, 2015 cornerback Isaac Warren, and 2014 safeties Terry Ausborne and Greg Johnson also played well. Clark recovered a fumble during the live half. Warren had two pass breakups and teamed with Reese for a tackle for loss.
Wilson and Gipson, who are both 2014 athletes, were McCollister's top targets and caught the ball well out of the backfield and from the slot. Wilson had a game-high eight catches for 75 yards, including the a 16-yard touchdown strike at the end of the live half for the only score of the game portion of the spring contest. Gipson had six carries for 20 yards and seven catches for 57 yards, while 6-foot-4 junior-to-be receiver Rodney Bendy snagged three passes for 26 yards.
Holmes said the offensive line has improved throughout the spring, but noted that it's the spot that he wants to see the most improvement from Thursday.
"We got a lot better than we were last year, but we've got to get consistent in what we do and make sure we protect Geo and open those holes and keep the ball rolling," Holmes said.
Joshua Taylor ran the second-team offense, completing 6 of 14 passes for 51 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. Both touchdowns -- a 67-yarder to Cordarrian Johnson and a 27-yarder to Tommy Dyer -- came in the scrimmage portion, while both interceptions were in the live half. Second-team defender Justin Session, who had a tackle for loss, and teammate Jordan Owens had an interception apiece.